MADURAI: Social activist Medha Patkar has assured farmers at Sivarakottai that she is with them in their struggle against the government for taking their agricultural land for industrial purposes. She was addressing farmers at a meeting at the village on Monday evening.
The farmers of Sivarakottai, Swamymallampatti and Karisalkalanpatti villages in Tirumangalam block have been fighting against the government move to acquire their rain-fed land since 2008. The government had proposed to take over 359 acres of land in Sivarakottai, 735 acres in Karisalkalanpatti and 359 acres in Swamymallampatti for industrial purposes. According to the farmers, they have been cultivating pulses and millets for generations on the proposed land and the land was the only source of livelihood. After the regime change in the state, the farmers were thinking that the project was scrapped but they kept receiving reminders from the special tahsildar of land acquisition over the proposal.
Addressing the meeting at Sivarakottai, Patkar said she along with social activists would take the struggle forward and was very much with them in their fight. A National People’s Parliament, which will be held at New Delhi from March 18 to 23, will take up this issue and will discuss it, she assured them. Around 500 farmers and villagers from these three villages participated in the meeting.
Earlier, when Patkar addressed media persons in the city, she criticised development works undertaken by the governments as the worst sources of corruption. In the name of development, the state was involved in land-grabbing, destroying the livelihood of the common people, she said. Patkar was in the city to address a meeting as part of the National Alliance of People’s Movements (NAPM) to mobilise support for the National People’s Parliament which will coincide with the budget session. “The ordinary people of this country such as adivasis, farmers, farm labourers, industrial workers, fishermen and other unorganised sector workers have no place in this democracy. The real people of this country are left out of development,” she said.
“Electoral politics of our country has failed to represent the people in the real sense and the state has failed its own people. The elected rulers do not represent the common man’s needs and problems. In stead, politicians in the name of development, connive with corporate and transnational corporations. They are taking away the land, driving out adivasis, and small farmers who have become refugees in their own land, she said. “All existing institutions, the reliable pillars of democracy, have failed the people as well as all those who struggled for our freedom and the founders of the Constitution. It is the landless peasants, forest dwellers and toiling masses who struggle not only for a living but to protect their homes, lands, forests, rivers and sea who in fact sustain our natural resources,” she said.
The objective of the National People’s Parliament was to create a platform for the common man to raise his voice over various developmental issues that affect the common man. A comprehensive policy, emphasizing on individual fundamental rights that recognizes access to common property resources like drinking water, housing, power, education and health would be sought, she said.
Patkar also said that during the NPP, an alternative budget would be presented. Gabriele, convener, NAPM, and Jeeva from the Society for Integrated Rural Development were present during the press meet.